If you've followed my whiskey reviews for long, you know that my goal is to always be fair. Part of that impartiality is to not make unfair comparisons. As an example, it is unfair to compare young Ryes to older ones. They're really two distinct categories. Oh, not legally or anything like that, this is just my preference. Younger Ryes are often robust and have sharp notes, whereas their older siblings are more mature and mellowed. The same thing with Bourbons - I expect certain things from younger Bourbons and I expect something different from those that are more aged. It just isn't realistic to make comparisons within each type of American whiskey.
Today, I'm reviewing Still & Oak Straight Rye. This is a younger Rye, aged two years, and distilled by Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee. If you're unfamiliar with Great Lakes, it was founded in 2004 as Wisconsin's first distillery since Prohibition. The goal of distiller Guy Rehorst was "a commitment to making truly original craft spirits that have 'a little Wisconsin' in every drop."
With regard to this Rye, everything about it is Wisconsin-sourced. It starts with Wisconsin rye grain, both malted and unmalted. That's mashed, fermented, distilled, and aged on-site in #4-char, 53-gallon barrels and is non-chill filtered before being bottled at 90°. A 750ml bottle will run about $34.99.
I'd like to thank Great Lakes Distillery for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, let's #DrinkCurious.
Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, this Rye appeared as coppery. It left a thick rim on the wall and very heavy legs to drop back to the pool.
Nose: This starts as an obviously young Rye with a very minty nose. Oak, rye bread, dill, and ginger were hidden beneath the mint. When I inhaled through my mouth, dill rolled across my tongue.
Palate: The mouthfeel was a bit oily and had a medium body. On the front of my palate, strong black pepper, and equally strong black coffee woke my mouth up. As it moved down to mid-palate, I discovered dark chocolate, plum, and oak. Then, on the back, it was a serious note of tobacco leaf.
Finish: A little rollercoastering happened. At first, it was dry oak, then a blast of citrus, and finally, smoky barrel char. These were all distinct, separate notes. The finish itself was long-lasting, but that citrus was an eye-opener because it was out of place.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: There is no pretending this is an older, mature Rye. It fits its profile of a younger one nicely, yet offers some unique experiences, particularly on the finish. I liked the big, bold opener. I found the citrus on the finish fun. The fact that craft whiskey these days averages about $50.00, this one is very affordable. I'm tossing a Bottle rating at it, I think you'll enjoy it, too. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It